Becoming soldiers again, that was the task. This time they were given almost an entire year to prepare. Desma had been telling her children for months that there might be a deployment coming, but when she said it’s definite and it’s Iraq and it’s happening this year they were shocked. “You’re just going to leave again?” Josh asked in disbelief. “It’s not like I have a choice,” Desma told him. “You’ll understand when you’re older.” That fall, Alexis was going to start second grade, and Paige was going to start fourth grade, while Josh would begin his freshman year of high school. All of them were old enough to anticipate what a year’s absence would be like, and they had three-quarters of a year to fret. The girls grew clingy; Josh kept his distance. He said, “I want to finish high school where I start high school. I’m not going to keep moving around.” Desma said all right, he could stay with his surrogate father Keith in Gentryville during all four years of high school, although it kind of broke her heart. Then she spoke to her cousin Lesley about minding the two girls again. Lesley said she would do it if it was what Desma really needed, but she had a lot going on. Desma understood: it was too hard. So she made other arrangements. Her daughters would stay with their paternal grandparents, who lived close to the girls’ father, down in Spurgeon, Indiana.